I have been with a wonderful man for a tumultuous three years and am just now fully digesting the depth of ADD's affect on our interaction.  We are dating long distance but, because we both work shift, end up spending more time together than the average couple.   He has a huge sense of play and I love it.  Relationship wise the ADD has made it quite a roller coaster ride as I strive to understand.  He, on the other had refuses to believe he's ADD and will not go for testing.  He is also dyslexic (formally diagnosed as a child) and can't stomach the idea of another "criticism" of who he is. I love this man for all the wonderful sides to his personality but am in danger of jeopardizing our future because I can't stretch my mind to accept flirting as symptomatic.  I would love to hear some feedback from other people as well as comments on setting boundaries in this area. 

I know this man loves me.  I can feel it and see it in a million different  and unusual ways but he makes light of our relationship and flirts with fb friends, most of whom he's dated.  He maintains it's nothing and I believe he believes it.  I don't feel he is taking it further and he is genuinely affronted to think I would think he's not capable of being monogamous.  When I try to explain my position he feels attacked because in his mind he truly has no intention taking it further.  I have tried to explain the concept of emotional infidelity but again because he genuinely doesn't feel it, he can't understand.  After three years he just now mentions me by name on his fb blurbs.  I get, when he's been in and out of relationships for so long, that he's private about ours.  He has articulated that he doesn't want people to know if another one goes south.

I have tried to explain that if he needs a lot of freedom to be himself he needs to create and atmosphere where I feel secure enough to let him fly.   I am more than prepared to accept that his behaviour is going to be different than the norm and truly enjoy his quirks and idiosyncrasies.  My own limitations are making it impossible for me to find my through this issue. 

I am having difficulty deciding how much of this is ADD affected and how much is just him being disrespectful.  I did ask him why he flirts and got the "I don't know" response.  I believe he doesn't know.  I also asked him if he could ever see himself having more traditional conversations and just not flirting and he said yes.

I'm pretty confused on this issue and am looking for clarity.  I know flirting with other people does not fit within my values but neither does lack of forgiveness.


Ugh. First off I'm going to

Ugh. First off I'm going to have to call BS on a few things...

Yes, he can stop flirting..he chooses not to. Even when he knows that it hurts you, he chooses not to.

Yes, ADHD can definitely bring to the table some impulse control issues and some compulsive behaviors. I think this is just as simple as feeding his ego because of how poorly he feels about himself, and adding the ADHD aspect to it, the impulse to do so may very well make it more difficult for him. However, you don't make it clear in your post if you've said "I'm not comfortable with it, and I really need you to stop doing this in order for our relationship to feel healthy to me" or if you've just asked him some questions about it. It might be true that he doesn't know why he does it, but just because he cannot vocalize the psychological reasons does not mean he's incapable of knowing and understanding the pain it causes you.

The biggest red flag in your post are the fact that he OPENLY flirts on FB but yet keeps his THREE year relationship with you secret. You know him best, if you believe his reasons, then I really don't want to read more into it, but that to me sounds very, very wrong. This isn't ADHD.

I relate to this...there were a few situations through the years in my marriage that made me feel uncomfortable. Best I can figure, he equates his self worth on how well other people think of him...and when it comes to women 'caring' about him, it just gives him a boost that he could not resist. All the while, he was insanely jealous of any man I would ever befriend. I have spoken to him several times about this...and it hasn't been an issue for a while. I do believe there is a sense of 'no big deal' to them, I don't deny that...because he would go NUTS if I ever went to lunch with a male coworker, but he was not exactly thrilled when I got upset that he went to work with another department head at work, but agreed to never go again. Ironically, he has been unfaithful and I haven't.

Please just keep your eyes open and don't bury your head in the sand over this issue. He needs to put you at the forefront of his life (including his FB) and he needs to dig deep down and get to the root of the reason why he needs to flirt to feel good about himself. It is NOT normal and it would be a HUGE HUGE HUGE red flag for me if I were you. Please don't ignore it. If his ADHD remains untreated you are in for a very, very hard life. It is what it is. My marriage went through HELL before we knew what was going on and it still is up and down and worry and stress and fear....but we're getting there.


Thank you Sherri.  I do see it as a huge red flag.  I read his actions as keeping his, "options open".  I have been very clear on how I felt and yet he did continue.  He keeps alot of female friends and does not begrudge me my male friends.  The boundary we set is that he continues with female friendships but always tells me.  He broke that promise within a month (to my knowledge) with one person I was particularly sensitive to.  I do believe that you hit the nail on the head with him needing the feedback he gets from other people.  He also keeps a huge number of pictures of himself up all over his house and I think it's part of validating himself as well.

As it stands I have left the relationship but am extremely sad about it.  This forum has helped me realize what I would be in for long term but I just kept hoping he would come to the table and deal with it.  In so many ways I enjoy the side benefits of his ADD; his zest for life,  but I do believe one can't stray from their own values and remain healthy and happy.

One of the posts on co-dependancy also woke me up and I am paying attention to what I need in a relationship.  I think there is a tendency, in women in particular, to think they can "fix" or they"ll be different than the last 10 relationships.   Once you get on that wheel it can be hard to get off.

Again,  thank you.

I don't know if I want to cry

I don't know if I want to cry or be elated that I found this site. A little background on my marriage might help, my husband and I dated in high school for about a year we broke it off after I graduated I met the man that I would be married to for 21 years we have 2 incredible sons and had what anyone would say was a perfect marriage. I could never get my high school sweetheart out of my mind a year and a half ago we found each other again on Facebook (of course) I was going through a really hard time just losing my older brother to cancer and being bored and lonely in my marriage. We met one Saturday and for me that was all I needed, he never married but has 3 children all by different mothers. I ended my 21 year VERY stable marriage and walked away from everything to be with him, somewhere in my heart I new that my 13 year old son would be better staying with my ex husband to maintain some sense of normal in his life. My oldest son was 20 at the time. Long history short I was a stay at home mom who was involved with everything my children ever did they where my life. I signed my divorce papers in November, moved in with my now husband and we were married New years Eve of the same year. He made me feel adored. I knew that he was dating a couple of other women that we had gone to school with but before I left my marriage he swore to me that I was the one, my friends tried to warn me but you know how that goes. Within a couple of weeks while I was cleaning and he was at work I came across the foreclosure papers on the house we were living in of course he never said a word prior to us getting together, not to mention all the warning signs like hiding his laptop screen when I walked in, but there was no doubt in my mind that he was in love with me so I let it go, I thought to myself that no one had ever loved him the way I could and I knew that if I was patient with him that was all he needed. I ignored the holes in the walls and doors missing because he had an answer for all of that. When I finally saw his temper I thought I was in the twilight zone I had never been spoken to or treated that way. Red flag #2 he lost his job in April and his credit was ruined. After 3 months of depression and not leaving the bedroom or his computer to find a job he was hired to be an independent contractor (with the help of someone that he had worked with before) with an excellent company. Things were finally looking up. I had an 800 becon score so when we rented our house in Aug. to be closer to my children I put everything in my name. By mid Sept. I started seeing things falling apart again, working til all hours of the night because he couldn't get things finished exploding at me and putting holes in the walls of our new home, losing all interest in me but telling complete strangers on fb how beautiful they were (he always started it with "even though I am married and love my wife" so at the end of Aug. he was let go again because he put a new buddy at work above his family and job. 4 months later a 70% percent pay cut and so far behind we have to move my credit score dropping roughly 300 points here comes the same stuff not being able to get his work done on time working till 1 or 2 in the morning still not being done. Now that I know about the 2 women he was flirting with he says he is so sorry and now he know what he wants, I had a feeling that he needed the attention of other women because of his lack of confidence but I am so afraid that he has hurt me to the point that I may never feel the it too late? I am praying that is is not because I love him and I want it to work! I apologize for my long post and I know you all will understand when I say that if you are not living with this you can't understand and I am so grateful to find someone who knows what we are going through.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart!!!


sullygrl's picture

Lori - does your new husband have ADHD?

What I mean is, has he been tested? Does he admit to having it? Issues with managing finances are pretty typical of people with ADHD. So is the hyperfocus (on you, when he was "courting" you) and then loss of interest when no longer the newest thing, even though he still loves you. If he has not I would suggest you try to get him to get evaluated (I got my husband to finally make an appointment when I told him I was done dealing with the fallout of his ADHD, I was on my way out the door, because he would not remember a thing I said, repeat things to me over and over, talk AT me for an hour at a time or more, interrupt me constantly, not be able to sit down, yadda yadda).

BUT - the two huge red flags are the temper (a grown man should not be putting holes in the wall - and if he even threatens to lay a hand on you, you need to GET OUT of there!) and the flirting with other women. Yes, a lot of people will flirt and try to get attention to boost their ego, but he needs to find a healthier way to deal with a lack of self-esteem if that is his issue. Have you looked at counseling? Together or apart even if he won't go. The loss of financial security is scary enough, but that temper is more worrisome. And you need to communicate things - especially if he "hid" a foreclosure from you. A counselor can help with that. Make sure you have access to all the bank stuff, know what money is coming in and going out so you can stop things before they get out of hand.

Best of luck to you.

I don't know if I want to cry

Lori, I'm am sorry you have found yourself in this situation.  A couple of thoughts come to mind as I read your post.

Firstly, something had to be not quite in your marriage for you to have made the move you did.  Coming across the high school guy again may have been the catalyst that caused you to leave your marriage but if the marriage had been without shortcomings you wouldn't have been receptive to him.   I think the two issues need to be separated or you will go down the, "I left that for this so I better make it work" path making you want to invest in something that is not right.

The high school guy.  I think you have made a mistake and the question now is whether to compound it.  You are now getting a clearer picture of who he is.  Is that who you had your hopes and dreams pinned on or is this a different character altogether?   He's like two altogether different people and the real him is not the one you picked.

I heard in your post exactly the things I've heard from my guy.  It's who they are.  They take care of their own needs and I'm not saying that's wrong.  I'm saying they're not the same as ours and never will be.  If we had a great day our relationship was great.  If we had a bad day the relationship was bad.  It's how they think.  Justifying in their own mind, they interact with other women at times when they think, "bad day, the relationship is done, I'm moving on or at least creating options.  They self medicate with the flirting taking comfort in the thought there is someone else out there who thinks, "they're all that".  Even if you get past it now something will come up down the road that will justify in their minds reverting to the behaviour.  You can't be perfect enough.  There will always be something.

They say past behaviour is the best predictor of future behaviour.  I believe it is true.

I also believe the more you invest in this relationship the harder it will be to leave.  If you can honestly say you can live with the behaviour for the rest of your life...stay.  If not, bail but know it will never change.  It is who he really is.

Good luck to you.  Either way I know you have a painful road ahead of you for the next little while.  Be strong and pay attention to what your friends say. 

Life is a swings one way but it eventually swings back.

Sullygirl, no he has not been

Sullygirl, no he has not been diagnosed with ADD and to be perfectly honest I don't know if he will even see a dr. he doesn't' believe in a lot of these disorders (if that's what it's called) his daughter was diagnosed Bi Polar a few years ago and meds have truly helped her but he refuses to see that and says she could control her mood swings and depression without meds or her therapist. So I dread the talk that's coming because I'm sure it will lead to a fight, I am praying that he will have an open mind to discuss this I know he can't stand feeling this way he is trying so hard to make things better for us but it's like he is going in circles, it takes him so long to get things done at work because he is so easily distracted and then can't get his focus back. I can't help but feel if he could get the help he needs things will improve and this is all new to me so I hope I am not being naive.

Got It, I had to smile at your comment "I left that for this so I better make it work" he says to me all the time that he took me away from a stable home to this. No this side of him is not  the one that I had my hopes and dreams pinned on but the other side is also in there and I am in love with him I am scared to death that what we both want might never be again but shouldn't I try? I am so confused I don't want to make anymore mistakes.

Just jumping in here

OMG as I sit here and get caught up on everyone else's struggles and advice the # 1 thing to do is share and listen. ( the advice and insight they give is insane it often crosses my mind that some of you should be paid for the value of what you are sharing.) 2. I read somewhere in one of these blogs " it is the fabric of your life" (ADHD) if you accept this and are willing to ride the rollercoaster then it seems to take some of the stress off some of the time. I am non ADHD but my partner has lived his whole life like this and knows no different inside him. Intellectually tho he see's how it has effected his life but has difficulty seeing how it effects everyone else's life around him. Which is how I found this site. Cause God knows I don't know what I'm doing. I also was in a marriage that was for life. 2 great kids, everything I wanted, no financial worries, great future. He was cheating on me off and on and I knew it but could never prove it. I started drinking at night to cope. Coping turned into a problem and he divorced me and took our children. And the only life I had ever known besides my childhood. My life was over, spinning out of control . I decide to go into treatment and am required to go to Detox. A fish out of water and freaked out. In walks my ADHD now partner. We talk, immediately knowing that we come from different worlds but are both suffering in our own ways. I know danger! danger! I did my treatment and he went to jail. I wasn't really clear at that point why he was in detox. I thought he was there to not get arrested till he figured a few things out and that the charges were drug related. I didn't know anything about drugs nor the complete devastation they do to lives. At the time ! Anyhow we both came out of our perspective short term residences and I was healthy but had feelings for this man. So we court as I go through a horrible ugly messy heartbreaking divorce but I've got this fabulous man that is helping me get through this. I ignored so many red flags some out of confusion some because I was falling in love and he appeared to be too. I have now been with him 6 years and have just started to deal with how his ADHD " IS " effecting our life. I mean that by I am no longer blaming anyone for how and why we fell in love. I don't blame him for what he isn't that I'm sure he promised he was in the begriming.  What we have now is what we have. Today. Right now.  That all I can handle. With the absence of alcohol and the new drug free partner  we see light. This can change on a dime but right now we are both hyper sensitive. Hopefully this stays with us long enough to become part of a new pattern in our lives. All I can do is my best. If it is the fabric of my life then for today it is . Today I cope by hearing messages from people just like me. Trying to figure out the how, why, what if's of loving someone that makes it difficult if not impossible to love. Believe me today is good but as of yesterday I have a number in my purse that I never had before.It's the number of a woman's shelter. I am in a situation where getting out when I can't cope has been impossible. Now today I know that if things go badly south I have an option. When I come back for my things they will be destroyed but I now know it is possible. That being said we are in a great spot right now. We both are trying. Today.